What do you call it when eleven players -- six offensive tackles, two offensive linemen, one guard, one tight end and one nose tackle -- each wear a given number in thirty-two seasons, but two of them account for eighteen of those seasons and two of them wore it in the same year?
You call it the men of #71.
Take a jump with me and meet this group of Broncos.
Drafted by the Bears in the 8th round (94th overall) of the 1959 NFL Draft. There is no evidence that he ever played for the Bears. He appeared in 14 games with 0 starts for Denver.
Art Hauser T 1961
Drafted by the Rams in the 5th round (58th overall) of the 1954 NFL Draft. He played for the Rams, Giants, Cardinals and Patriots before coming to Denver. He appeared in 14 games with 0 starts for the Broncos. Since his retirement, he has been an NFL scout, a teacher and a successful business man.
Jim Perkins T 1962-64
Drafted by the Broncos in the 21st round (162nd overall) of the 1962 AFL Draft. He was also selected by the Eagles in the 7th round (86th overall) of the 1962 NFL Draft. He opted to play for the Broncos. He appeared in 42 games with 0 starts.
Wallace Dickey T 1968-69
Drafted by the Lions in the 15th round (207th overall) of the 1965 NFL Draft. There is no record of him ever playing for the Lions. He appeared in 22 games with 0 starts for the Broncos. He recovered 1 fumble. He returned 1 kick for 13 yards.
Claudie Minor T 1974-82
Drafted by the Broncos in the 3rd round (68th overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft. He appeared in 125 games with 123 starts. He was a starter in 1 wildcard playoff game, 2 divisional playoff games, 1 AFC Championship game and in Super Bowl XII.
Jack Peavey OL 1987
Undrafted player. He appeared in 3 games wtih 1 start. Both Peavey and Greg Kragen are listed as having worn #71 in 1987, but I was not able to find a definitive explanation for this. Kragen only appeared in 12 games in that season, so it may be speculated that he was placed on injured reserve and replaced by Peavey.
Greg Kragen NT 1985-93
Undrafted player. He tried out for the Broncos but was cut. He was invited back the following year and made the team. He appeared in 136 games with 116 starts. He recorded 22.5 sacks. He forced 5 fumbles and recoverd 12 fumbles, including 1 return for a touchdown. He amassed 708 tackles. He was selected to one Pro Bowl (1989) and was named 1st Team All Pro twice (1989, 1991). He started in 1 Wild Card playoff game, 4 divisional playoff games, 4 AFC Championship games -- he intercepted a pass in the 1991 AFC Championship, a 10-7 loss to the Bills -- and in Super Bowls XXI, XXII and XXIV.
Melvin Tuten T 1999-2000
Drafted by the Bengals in the 3rd round (69th overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft. He appeared in 2 games in 1999 with 0 starts for the Broncos.
Blake Brockermeyer T 2002-03
Drafted by the Panthers in the 1st round (29th overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft. He played for the Panthers and the Bears before coming to the Broncos. He appeared in 32 games with 3 starts for Denver. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, he became an assistant football coach at a Fort Worth high school after his retirement from the NFL.
Chad Mustard TE/T 2007
Undrafted player. He played for the Browns before coming to Denver. He appeared in 32 games with 6 starts for the Broncos. He caught 7 passes for 85 yards. He returned 2 kicks for 19 yards.
Russ Hochstein OL 2009-2010
Drafted by the Buccaneers in the 5th round (151st overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft. He played for the Buccaneers and Patriots before coming to Denver. He came to the Broncos in exchange for a 7th round draft pick. The draft pick, interestingly enough had come to Denver as part of a different trade which also brought LeKevin Smith to Denver. He appeared in 31 games with 16 starts for the Broncos. He recorded 3 tackles. He returned 1 kick for 6 yards.
While all of these men have contributed to the history of the Broncos, there are only two men who merit consideration for the title of Greatest to Wear #71. One was drafted, one was undrafted. Both appeared in over 100 games and both had over 100 starts. Both own Super Bowl appearances. The nod, however, must go to the player who was a starter in 5 playoff games, 4 AFC Championship games and 3 Super Bowls: